Kane Roberts; "I wouldn’t go crazy on steroids. I would do ‘em,
then do nine months clean on the road. But yeah, I definitely dabbled."
Kane Roberts talks the Alice Cooper days, Steroids & Rn’R Fantasy Camp
By Gerry Gittelson
Metal Sludge Editor at Large
HOLLYWOOD – Reversing the trend of the typical super skinny guitarist, all drugged out with his leather pants falling halfway down his ass, Kane Roberts was something different – a muscle man with huge arms but nimble fingers, and the Boston native was renowned as a long-time guitarist for Alice Cooper.
He has played with Paul Stanley, Berlin and Rod Stewart, in addition to recording a song with Slash, Axl and Alice.
Since leaving Cooper, Roberts put out some solo records, worked in private business, and recently picked up a nice gig at the Rock N Roll Fantasy Camp, and he keeps on plugging along.
We caught up with Roberts for a Metal Sludge exclusive, and here is what the stocky sleeveless one had to share.
Guns N’ Steroids
METAL SLUDGE: Hey Kane, it’s a little early in the morning, but I figured you would already be up, working on your biceps right?
KANE ROBERTS: Yeah, I am an early riser. A lot of people wonder why I lifted weights so much and got so big, and I have no clue. I do know why I stopped though – the smaller my legs got, the bigger my dick looked.
SLUDGE: I do remember reading once that the biggest turn-on for women is big arms. You would know, Kane.
ROBERTS: I have no idea. You can’t figure out women. As men, we have no clue. Our best bet is to get in and get out without further damage.
SLUDGE: You’re married now?
ROBERTS: Yeah, I waited. When I was a kid, I couldn’t understand what marriage was about. When I was in my 20s and 30s, I couldn’t do it. I didn’t understand. What are you gonna do? But I got tired of hangin’ out all by myself all day. You wake up, and 24 hours a day, you have to have someone else around.
SLUDGE: So are the arms a big turn-on for the girls or not? You kind of danced around it, Kane.
ROBERTS: I think it’s my personality. Girls just saw how great a guy I am. I’m smart, and I play the shit out of my guitar. But people, even today, they call me the Rambo of rock because of the pictures with the hair and guns and the muscles. The funny thing is, I actually made dinner for Sylvester Stallone one time.
SLUDGE: Really? That’s out of left field.
ROBERTS: Well, my manager at the time, he sent me to cooking school for like four months. And one time he asked if I could come be his assistant. He is a great chef, and he was cooking a dinner for Stallone, Michael Douglas and Don Johnson. It was a trip.
Sludge Fun Fact: Rambo once ate dinner cooked by Kane Roberts
SLUDGE: I guess it didn’t work out, being a cook.
ROBERTS: You do different things to get by. I was a dealer for illegal blackjack in New York City before I got the Alice Cooper gig. Then I got the Alice job, and the first plan was the fly us around to different places and let us write together. So one minute we’re in a mansion in Beverly Hills, and the next thing I know, we’re in Maui together. It was pretty wild.
SLUDGE: Was it overwhelming?
ROBERTS: Not at the time because once you get into something, at least me, you just roll with it. I never sat around thinking about how I can’t believe how lucky I am. I just stayed in the moment and kept doing it, but when I look back now, yeah, it’s was pretty incredible. I was really lucky.
Kane on tour with Alice Cooper in the 80s
SLUDGE: Why did you leave Alice Cooper?
ROBERTS: I don’t really remember why we split up. It just sort of got to that point. I got a deal with Geffen, and things just reached an impasse. At the time, we were basically living together in Woodland Hills (north of Los Angeles), and one morning I woke up and Alice was at the door of my bedroom with two suitcases, and he says, “I’m leaving you.” We just kind of laughed together. I almost joined again in ’95 or ’96 but by that time I was working on doing some graphics stuff for video games and all that stuff, but we did get a chance to play together recently, and it was incredible.
SLUDGE: Give us some more stuff about being with Alice.
ROBERTS: The whole thing about being on the road, it’s the ultimate life for any guy. Someone is always there to tell you where you’re supposed to be, so that whole issue is taken off the table. You go to the hotel, you go to the venue for soundcheck, you go back to the hotel, you eat, and depending on when you want to feel it, whatever sexual thing you’re into, you squeeze it in between all this stuff, then travel to the next town. Thousands of people are screaming for you every night, and that does something to your brain.
With Alice, being on the road, when I first met him, he would preserve all his energy for the show. We would go to a shopping mall in every single town, every single day.
SLUDGE: Would people always recognize him?
ROBERTS: A lot of people would just sort of stare or stop and look at him and ask each other if that’s him. People didn’t always know who I was. They thought I was the bodyguard. In the UK, there was a picture of us together in a magazine, and they called me his “minder.” Yeah, his minder that plays a little guitar (laughs).
SLUDGE: What about the muscles and all the working out with weights. What was the deal with that?
ROBERTS: Well, when I was kid, I was really skinny, and once I got into it, I was just like Alice – very obsessive. It’s our personalities. When he get into something, good or bad, we go all out, and I’m still that way now.
SLUDGE: Now, by the time you joined, Alice Cooper was sober at this point, right? I mean, really sober, right?
ROBERTS: Yeah, 100 percent sober. That’s one of the reasons they wanted me. They loved the fact that I was kind of against the grain, and we just hit it off together within the first hour we were together. There were a lot of great guitar players, and I don’t know why they chose me. I guess some of the guys Alice had before, they were smoking something or drinking or shooting something into their arm, and he couldn’t risk that going on the road again, so it kind of hung in balance, staying sober.
SLUDGE: Confession time: Did you take steroids?
ROBERTS: No, just an extra piece of salmon every day (laughs). No. Yeah, I did that, but there were no side effects. I think you can abuse any drug, even if you take too many aspirin, but recreational drugs are a different deal. I don’t want to get on a soap box, but if you do drugs, you’re life will go nowhere. You’ll just be standing still. That’s really true. You need to keep your brain firing on all pistons. But with steroids, there are some benefits to it, so I took ‘em. Still, sometimes I would walk into Gold’s gym, and some of the women would be three times bigger than the men, and that used to blow my mind. I wouldn’t go crazy on steroids. I would do ‘em, then do nine months clean on the road. But yeah, I definitely dabbled. Good or bad, the side effects, it’s make you feel a little different, but I don’t think there was any damage.
SLUDGE: The new look for women is more muscle, but I kind of like the old school, more soft and curvy style, more natural, like Marilyn Monroe. What do you think?
ROBERTS: I just think it’s cool all the options. The truth is, there are just different types. I like women who are pretty and who are in shape as opposed to not being in shape. I’m not into big, muscular women, not that there is anything wrong with that. I’ve dated full-on body builders, and there was nothing wrong with that, but in general I am more traditional. But you know, anything can happen.
SLUDGE: What about the waif, heroin look that models were doing in the 90s?
ROBERTS: Nah, they look too wasted like they’re about to keel over.
Kane with the guys doing his best Corey Hart impersonation.
SLUDGE: What are you doing musically? Are you getting back into it?
ROBERTS: I’m still surviving. I do the Rock n Roll Fantasy Camp in Vegas. I got the gig when the campers didn’t like one the counselors, so they replaced him with me.
SLUDGE: Was it Peter Tork from the Monkees?
ROBERTS: No, but I would have loved to replace Mickey Dolenz (laughs). I also put out a CD last year called “Unsung Radio.”
SLUDGE: What about the flaming guitar you had that shot sparks.
ROBERTS: Yeah, I remember my first model, I loved how it felt. It was fun but occasionally it wouldn’t shoot, so I would have to punch my guitar tech.
SLUDGE: Do you still work out?
ROBERTS: I still go to the gym, but I don’t love it the way I used to. It’s hard to put in so much work.
SLUDGE: You said you were a skinny kid? Were you picked on and bullied?
ROBERTS: Not an excessive amount. I would get in occasional fights, and I would win some and lose some. I guess you could say I was afraid to fight but I didn’t walk away, either.
ROBERTS: One last thing: Rick Neilsen from Cheap Trick taught me how to throw pics. That was very important.
In Sludge History, read "20 Questions" with Kane Roberts from September 2004